Ketamine/Placebo Family History Positive Study



Trial Phase


Trial Purpose and Description

Trial Purpose

The proposed study is the first to explore the contribution of brain glutamate systems, a major target of ethanol in the brain, to the vulnerability to develop alcoholism. This study may lead to an enhanced understanding of the underlying neurobiological mechanism in high-risk individuals that may lead to the transition from moderate to excessive use of alcohol.

Trial Description

Males and females with a paternal family history of alcoholism have a high risk for developing alcoholism. These individuals have been shown to decrease dysphoric responses to alcohol self-administration that may promote the excessive use of alcohol. Ethanol has been shown to be an antagonist at the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor. We have recently shown that sober alcoholics have decreased dysphoric response to the NMDA antagonist, ketamine. We propose to test the hypothesis that this characteristic exists as a vulnerability factor in those individuals susceptible to develop alcoholism. Specifically, the objective is to determine whether individuals with a family history positive (FHP) for alcoholism will experience less dysphoric, anxiogenic, and psychotogenic effects to ketamine infusion when compared to family history negative (FHN) control subjects.

Male and female subjects, FHP (biological father and one other first degree relative) between the ages of 21-30, and matched controls (FHN) will complete 3 test days in a randomized balanced order under double-blind conditions. Test days will involve the 60-minute intravenous infusion of placebo and ketamine. Outcome measures include the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale and the Clinician-Administered Dissociative States Scale to measure perceptual responses to ketamine, and visual analog scales for mood states. Secondary measures include visual analog scales for high, similarity to ethanol, the Sensation Scale (a validated measure of ethanol-like sensations) and aspects of craving for alcohol.

Participation Guidelines

21 Years - 30 Years

Eligibility Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

1. Male and female between the ages of 21 and 30 years

2. Medically and neurologically healthy on the basis of history, physical examination,
EKG, screening laboratories, absence of current and/or past substance abuse

3. For Family History Positive (FHP) Subjects: Biological father and another first or
second-degree biological relative with history of alcoholism

Exclusion Criteria:

1. DSM-IV psychiatric and substance abuse diagnosis by history on psychiatric evaluation
that includes a structured diagnostic interview (The Semi-Structured Assessment for
the Genetics of alcoholism: SSAGA) and the Wisconsin Scales of Psychosis Proneness

2. History of counseling or psychotherapy; except family therapy centered around another
family member

3. Extended unwillingness to remain alcohol-free for three days prior to testing and for
the duration of the testing period

4. For women: positive pregnancy test at screening or intention to engage in unprotected
sex during the study

5. Alcohol naïve

6. Previous bad experience with ketamine

7. Adoptee and no contact with family members

8. For Family History Negative (FHN) Subjects: NO family history of alcoholism in any
first or second-degree relatives (subjects must reliably report on three first-degree
VA Connecticut Healthcare System
Yale University
March 2001
Last Updated:
May 27, 2014
Study HIC#: ID: NCT00588952